Records: Rio Grande City cop took bribes, provided police radios to smugglers

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Ramon De La Cruz joined the Rio Grande City Police Department in 2014.

Prosecutors unsealed the criminal complaint against a Rio Grande City policeman Monday, detailing allegations he accepted bribes, staged drug busts and provided police radios to smugglers.

Federal agents arrested police Det. Ramon “Ramey” De La Cruz Jr. at the Rio Grande City Police Department on Friday afternoon.

“It’s a shock to everybody,” said police Chief Noe Castillo.

De La Cruz worked for the Starr County Sheriff’s Office from April 2002 to October 2014, when he joined the Rio Grande City Police Department, according to Texas Commission on Law Enforcement records.

Informants told Homeland Security Investigations — a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — that De La Cruz worked with a local drug trafficking organization.

The investigation started on Jan. 21, 2013, when the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office discovered about 600 pounds of marijuana hidden in a horse trailer, according to the criminal complaint.

Homeland Security Investigations agents tracked the shipment back to a ranch near the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 755 and La Sagunada Road in Rio Grande City.

Operating from the ranch, the Beltran family moved marijuana to Dallas, Houston and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to the criminal complaint. The Beltran drug trafficking organization eventually started stealing marijuana from suppliers with help from corrupt cops.

Prosecutors indicted at least four members of the Beltran family, according to federal court records. Informants developed during the investigation said De La Cruz worked with drug traffickers.

The informants claimed:

> “On or about May 12, 2016, an individual hereinafter identified as CS 6 provided information to law enforcement indicating an instance whereby rifles and other tactical equipment which had been used in a kidnap and murder were brought to the Beltran ranch to be hidden,” according to the criminal complaint. “At the request of Gulf Cartel leader Comandante Puma, Ramiro and Rodolfo Beltran put the rifles and tactical vests in a box which was buried in the ground near a barn on the ranch.”

The Beltran family later asked De La Cruz to dispose of the rifles, according to the criminal complaint. According to the informant, De La Cruz took the rifles to a local gun shop, which apparently sold the weapons.

> De La Cruz scouted highways for the drug traffickers, helping them evade law enforcement, according to the criminal complaint.

> De La Cruz provided law enforcement documents to drug traffickers, according to the criminal complaint.

When the drug trafficking organization stole marijuana from a supplier, the Beltran family provided the supplier with fake documents to assuage any suspicions, according to the criminal complaint. The Beltrans paid De La Cruz for the documents.

> An informant claimed De La Cruz escorted a marijuana shipment in late 2011 or early 2012, according to the criminal complaint.

> De La Cruz took a $5,000 cash bribe, according to an informant who received a cut of the money.

> De La Cruz provided drug traffickers with police radios, which allowed them to monitor law enforcement activity, according to the criminal complaint.

Federal agents later seized two Motorola radios from a drug trafficker’s home. They also recovered photos showing De La Cruz posing with drug traffickers at the Las Palmas Downs horse track in Mission.

Agents charged De La Cruz with possession with intent to distribute more than 2,200 pounds of marijuana.

An attorney for De La Cruz didn’t respond to requests for comment Monday. An attorney for the Beltran family declined to comment.

Homeland Security Investigations referred a request for comment to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, which couldn’t immediately comment on the case.

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